tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC November 26, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PST
it was part of the deal. cool. [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. it fills you up right. the affordable care act is back before the supreme court today. we have some breaking news this hour. will the obama administration get another win? it's tuesday, november 26, and this is "now. " just when you thought the legal efforts to dismantle the nation's health care law were over they are at it again. just moments ago as we've been reporting the supreme court decided to hear a case arguing that the act violates first amendment rates because it requires coverage for employees' contraception, reproductive
screening, and preventive care. the obama administration was already pretty careful. they exempted religious institutions from that rule. but now some corporations say their religious freedom is being violated. hoby lobby, a crafts chain, argues that just as corporate speech rights were protected in citizens united, now corporate religious rights should be protected against government pressure through the aca. just as it is wrong to ask whether corporationses have speech rights, they argue, it's also wrong to ask whether corporations exercise religion. an appeals court in washington recently agreed ruling that the aca's contraception rule would force religious companies to, quote, become complicit in a grave moral wrong. now it's certainly true that corporations do have protections under the law. groups like hobby hobby want more, an employer's religious preference to trump their
employees' freedom to make their own religious or health careticians. as marcy hamilton suggests, weigh are at a scary moment in our history if they say there is a constitutional right to shape benefits based on the religious beliefs of the owners. why isn't it discrimination against women based on gender and religion? joining me today daily beast correspondent, columnist ali cohn, and distinguished senior fellow bob herbert. that you all for being here. and joining us now from washington is nbc news justice correspondent pete williams who has been tracking this supreme court case here. pete, put this in context for us. there was what they call a circuit split, different rulings in the lower courts. how does that affect our understanding fl the significance of the supreme court hearing this case? >> reporter: well, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion the court would take this case for two reasons. whenever the lower courts strike down part of a federal law, that makes it very important for the supreme court to hear the case. now the court today agreed to hear two cases, hobby lobby, in
which the hobby lobby, the company, won the tenth circuit court of appeals said yes corporations do have and can exercise freedom of religion. and then another case, the third circuit said another company, which is in pennsylvania owned by a family of five menonites, the court ruled against them and said not only can the company assert religious religious freedom but they can't sue and claim damage because it's the corporation that has to pay for the contraceptive insurance not the individual owners. so there's two questions the court will have then basically. one is whether corporationses have this right and, secondly, if they don't, as corporations, can the individual owners assert freedom of religion claims? by the way, on hobby lobby, they don't say we reject the entire contraceptive mandate. what they say is four elements of it. four things. two versions of the morning after pill, two kinds of iuds
they say would be tantamount to abortion, so they don't want to provide coverage for them. but, you're right. it's a question the supreme court has never before addre addressed. does a for profit corporation, can it object to a federal law based on religious freedom? it's never answered that before, so that's one of the reasons why this is a big teal. >> yeah, a very big deal if they haven't answered it. and when you talk to obama administration officials and the folks at the justice department, they feel they went out of their way to exempt purely religious nonprofit institutions. they really wanted to leave some space for them and that goes to the question that you always lack at in these oral arguments is the justices want to know where the rule ends. and so if you open this up on contraception, an area people have strong religious views, where do you draw the rule? there are christian scientists or other faiths that say they don't need to cover any health care. >> reporter: yes, and i think that is going to be the difficulty here if the court, you know, you noted the citizens united case.
i don't know whether this will hinge on that, but that is a case where the supreme court said corporations do have some constitutional rights, they have free speech rights. so the question is do they have this constitutional right in addition? and if they do then, you're right, it's a line drawing problem because then a company can say, well, you know, because of our religious views we are not going to serve gays. we're not going to accommodate jews or muslims, whatever. where do you true the line on what a can company can do and refuse to do based on constitutional freedom of religion. >> right, and those are tough limits they would get well out beyond the statutory language of the aca. obvious obviously a big case that you'll be reporting on. pete williams, thanks for your time today. >> reporter: you bet. >> sally, you're shaking your head. what a do you think of this breaking news? >> well, look, i'm glad the supreme court will settle this. the idea of giving religious freedom to corporations, i mean, listen, actually if all after
sudden we decide that religion and corporations have religion, then a lot of them have a lot of the repenting to do for their sins, so that should be good to watch. this larger sort of phenomenon of you have a very small minority of religious folks, and we should be clear, a very small minority of religious folks in this country who, for instance, don't think there should be gae marriage because they don't want the views and wishes of others imposed on them at the same time want to be able to impose their views on others through things like denying contraceptive coverage to their employees. that just boggles the mind and contradicts everything we stand for as a free society. >> i think you hit that exact line that is confusing people. even beyond the corporate personhood thing, the corporations and people, my friend, thing, there's also this confusion here where you say, wait a minute. what about the individual's rights whether they're employee or not? something from justice scalia on a case in 1990 where he said an individual's religious beliefs cannot excuse him from
compliance with an otherwise valid law. and, michael, that has been the precedent for a very long time. you have it follow the law even as it pertains to treating other people in the work place, even if at home or at church you would do things differently. >> you would think. you would think. you would think. by the way, i wanted to come out of the date with that mitt romney quote. you beat me to it. you are the host. >> guest host, michael. >> of course, alex, guest host. very hard to conceive that the supreme court can say that corporations have more religious freedom or more right to religious choice than individuals who work for them do. but this court may say -- this cou court, the conservative ma jrt on this court has granted lots of rights to corporations over the last few years and found a lot of cases in corporations' favor and, you know, this time
we're not looking at kennedy. we're looking at roberts, right, as the swing person. and i could easily picture him changing against the aca on this matter. >> and, bob, a lot of this goes to the structure of the entire health care market and why these issues have been difficult as we're all learning about it. 48% of people get their health care through some sort of employer. most of those employers, weigh should mention, probably don't want to go in and change the standards under the federal rules based on their religious affiliations of their executives and yet you need rules of the road. >> you need rules of the road, but this is another reason why we should have moved to a single pair system of health coverage because we're just go going to end up with one challenge after another whether it's in the courts or outside of the courts, and i don't see an end to this. but the other point that i'd like to make is this is the absurdity we're already on the slippery slope of corporate
personhood so when you start giving them free speech rights as though they were individuals and now, you know, suddenly we have a case where, or maybe not so suddenly, we have a case where they're asserting religious rights, where does it end? this is a really important issue. i agree with michael. you don't know what's going to happen with this court. it's a very pro-corporation court. this is a very big deal. >> if you look at the -- one thing that's interesting here, if you look at the rhetoric the companies have used and their lawyers have used in describing the rights of their owners, they describe their can companies in a very particular way. they talk about the companies as an extension of their owners' will. and one of the things that is sort of at stake here, i think, as bob points this out, what is a corporation? do we accept that when a entrepreneur, this whole social ethos of social entrepreneur as hero, goes out and manages to build a company of a few hundred people, he still has some claim
on the ethical identity and essence of that company, that's what, in essence, these people are claiming. the counter argument when you begin to build something that's broader, you know, there are many different people who have a stake in it and there's more complicated ethics that pertains. >> and the line about corporations is complicated, rig right? this is pointed out in an article, don't blame -- he says, look, corporations have always been, quote, persons. that hasn't always been the definition of a corporation under the law. a person able to own property and enter into legal agreements. and, sally, people like it when corporations are treated as persons so you can sue them, right? >> yes. >> and there's a history why that works. as pete williams was saying and for those just joining us, we are reporting the supreme court will hear this big challenge to it obama care and whether religious corporations can have a religious exemption. and yet there are ways that corporate personhood has always
worked not only in favor of corporations. >> yeah. but, look, the way our legal structures work in this country is for the benefit of being a corporation and that is a benefit, a special category of rights that, yes, gives you certain obligations in terms of being able to be sued, but more you get benefits to incorporate as a corporation. to trade off for that you lose certain other freedoms. so you get all kinds of -- you know, there are tax benefits. let's not forget the actual tax handouts that we give to all these corporations. and the slippery slope here we treat corporations so darned well in this country, maybe more people will all as individuals we can incorporate. why not? what's going to stop us, right? it's exactly true. we don't realize this is a special legal class. it comes with tradeoffs and what these corporations are trying to do is get both sides of the benefit. they want their cake and eat it, too. >> that's something the obama attorneys at toj are going to say, look, if it is so opinion to you, if your number one goal
is to organize a religious entity, then you really shouldn't be a for profit. you should be a not for profit and we exempted you. we went out of our way to do that. people who say they actually care about that, but that's religion and is different than the stock market. we'll keep an eye on this case. it will be interesting to see oral arguments. stay with us. after the break we have the storm and it's just in tropical storm for thanksgiving. airports are bracing for rain, sleet, and snow across the country. we will get a live report on where the storm is heading and the latest on, yes, airport delays up next on "now." [ tires screech ]
an unwanted guest is showing up for thanksgiving this year and threatening a holiday headache. the massive storm that began in california last week is now bearing down on the northeast, packing snow, sleet, and freezing rain. it's bad news for those traveling on the road and, of course, through the air. joining me now from o'hare airport is sarah. how is it looking in chicago and i have a flight tonight out of new york, if you have any thoughts on that, let me know. >> reporter: of course i'll give you a personalized travel forecast in just a second. we'll start at o'hare. the skies are clear and the lines are moving. we're going to show you security here right now in the american airlines terminal. hardly any lines to speak of. people are heeding these warnings to show up early, to make it to their flight on time. and we're not seeing people running, not a lot of worry and stress. of course that can all change in just a few minutes, all up and
down the east coast we're going to see rain. we're going to see sleet. we're going to see snow. and it just takes a couple of the major air a ports, just a couple of flights, to have that domino effect, things start backing up and all of a sudden you're seeing canceled flights, delayed flights, yellow and red colors on the departures board, just the things you really don't want to see as you are heading out for the holiday. >> all right. well, i'm glad there's no lines in chicago. that's something we can all be thankful for. sarah dallof, thank you very much. now coming up, attention shoppers of the it is time to unite with the workers. we will talk to a walmart sales associate about black friday, the creep and workers right all ahead. before using her new bank of america credit card, which rewards her for responsibly managing her card balance. before receiving $25
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walmart is one of the many retailers who plan to open their doors on thanksgiving this year accelerating a trend to ending one of the true vacation days in the holiday season touting the move as good news for the shopping public. quote, we're excited to give our customers an incredible black friday with shopping hours that will allow them to take advantage of great prices on thanksgiving night and all weekend long, said the company in a statement. but having to work holidays isn't sitting as well with many walmart workers who say they are strained by low pay and poor working conditions. this week, in fact, walmart workers went on strike in florida, california, and several other big cities. that is despite repeated allegations that the company retaliates against unions, which it has denied. last week the national labor relations board ruled that walmart had, quote, unlawfully threatened discipline or terminated employees in 13 states for protesting their working conditions. still, walmart workers plan to keep up the fight by holding protests outside 1,500 walmart
stores on this black friday. joining me now is a professor and a customer he service manager at a walmart in laurel, maryland. how are you, tiffany? >> hi, thank you. i'm fine. >> good. thanks for joining us. tell us a little bit about why you are taking this action and, as we've been reporting, whether you do have any concerns about it affecting your employment status. >> we're taking this action in retaliation across the world with walmart workers and also to gain respect and better wages. >> and how have you basically dealt with the pay rate? i understand that from the materials you provided you have been on food stamps but you also work. how does that figure in for what you and other colleagues you are working with have to do during this holiday season? >> during the holiday season it's very hard as you stated before. in the past i was on food stamps
but i also know many workers still receiving government benefits now and today. some of them are even homeless, being paid low wages working at walmart. >> okay. we're going to go out to the panel so stay with us, tiffany. dorian, we introduced you and you have a lot of experience here in looking at the labor movement. where does the labor movement broadly, which has been declining, fit in to this particular effort to target certain big box retailers? >> well, this is in many ways a new labor movement. i think we're seeing the labor movement being reborn for the 21st century through fast food work woulders but he especially through walmart workers taking courageous actions across the country against the country's and world's largest private employer which sets the standards in terms of low wage work, part time work, encouraging their employees to seek out government benefits. it costs one store $900,000 in taxpayer money in terms of the government benefits that walmart is encouraging its workers to
take on instead of paying them a living wage. >> so, bob, you've written a lot over your career. there is a public sector hidden support for these low wages, right? >> oh, i think big time and most especially since the great recession and its aftermath, i mean, more and more people are falling in a that category and more and more people who are still in the middle class are very insecure in the middle class. so, you know, and they also see their children who are taking low-wage jobs, working under tebl conditions. so i think there's tremendous public support for what's been going on. and if i could just add about walmart, a study showing walmart last year spent $7.6 billion for stock buyback which is basically a way of enriching the walmart family, which is already the richest family in the world. and the point of this study was
that if that money had been used, for example, for workers' salaries, it would have been able to increase salaries by as much as $6 an hour. it would have brought a full-time walmart worker up to a $25,000 a year wage which is not a great living but it's a lot better than what's been going on. >> the point i was discussing with tiffany and, sally, i want to get your thoughts on this, that can be a big change for the people living at the margins, working full time and still need public assistance and one study showed that when you look at the ceo to worker ratio it is actually 1,200 times the income of the average walmart associate. >> look, once upon a time it was 30 times. the national average is now 300 right now. so 1,200 is way out of scale and it is the world's and the nation's largest employer. you know, there's a wal mat store in ohio where the managers
put out boxes soliciting donations for food pour walmart associates who don't have enough to eat for the holidays. this is a travesty in this country, a good day's work, a hard day's work should receive a fair day's pay, and we need to talk about the cost, the true cost of low prices at walmart that they're putting on taxpaye taxpayers. we're subsidizing those profits to keep those walmart workers from going hungry and starving on the streets. >> tiffany, let me bring you back in and ask you a simple question. sally was just mentioning some of the efforts at local walma s walmarts. have you seen anything like that or efforts to help associates during the holidays? >> i haven't seen any at my store. i saw the ones in ohio and the other bins they had out across the country. and it just goes to show that walmart do pay us low wages, and that people go hungry not just on the holidays but every day, so that's one of the reasons why i chose to strike. >> right. that's such an important point, dorian. we look at this.
the media is part of it. the country, the nation at lashlg. we lack at this during the holidays and that's good and bad. it's good anytime we can try to think about those less fortunate, right, but it also doesn't go to long -term policy does it, if we have a seasonal approach to the working poor. >> and i want to remind you that and the viewers walmart workers have been going on strike for a year to try to make the can and, therefore, the economy a better place for all americans. so this isn't just black friday. it's been a year of intimidation, of illegal firing. the national labor relations board found merit and violations of the law against its employees. so these workers have been courageous for a long time. it is up to us to support them because this isn't just about walmart but the way in which walmart sets standards for the economy especially when two-thirds of their workers make
poverty wajges. this is important for all of us. >> thank you for being here. i also want to thank tiffany. thank you. happy holidays. >> thank you and happy holidays to you as well. >> all right. appreciate it. after the break, after signals the cia was open to reforming the drone program, they are continuing to keep a tight lid on it. now tens of thousands of pakistanis are blocking nato supply routes. we're going to discuss the road to transparency with the center for american progress next on "now." [ grunts softly ] [ ding ] i sense you've overpacked, your stomach. try pepto to-go. it's pepto-bismol that fits in your pocket. relief can be yours,
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ten years of u.s. military strikes, over 300 of them as recent as -- one of them as recent as last week, many pakistanis are protesting in large numbers against american drone attacks. on saturday in it the northwestern city of peshawar, tens of thousands of pakistanis were protesting u.s. drone strikes. they are threaten iing to block nato supply routes until the u.s. halts the strikes. demonstrators today are still blocking that spla route stopping truck drivers in their tracks and disrupting the flow of nato provisions after several alleged drone strikes hit the region. one striking an islamic seminary in northern pakistan on thursday and two more in yemen within the past two weeks. this is despite suggestions from u.s. officials earlier this year the drone program would be shifted from the cia to the military and thus subject to more transparency. the new strikes and protests are a reminder the program still operates with heavy secrecy and a range of different types of
blow back. "the washington post" is reporting the cia isn't really exiting the program despite efforts to shift the drone war to the defense department. that is a shift, of course, from the last time drones were in the news nine months ago when incoming cia director john brennan said in his confirmation hearing the agency didn't need to be in the drone business. >> the missions of the agency is to collect intelligence, and the cia should not be doing traditional military activities and operations. >> joining us from washington is senior fellow at the center for american progress, ken, thanks for being here. let's start with this international context. that's are fairly large demonstrations, to put it in obvious comparison if they were happening in any american city weigh would be covering them all day, very large, blocking the nato supply routes. a big deal and it relates to this reporting we're seeing that the program is continuing and not really moving out into the open as it was supposed to. >> yes, and i think it's
important to realize that brennan is exactly right when he says it's important for the cia to get out of the drone business. the cia should be our primary intelligence collection agency. it should not be a paramilitary organization. the activities of the drone should be run out of our military and it could help alleviate some of the problems that we're seeing in pakistan in some ways because it would force a lot of that's activities out into the open and it would require the pakistani government to admit to their people that they are actually in support and working with the united states in many of these strikes. >> that's a diplomatic piece about where some of the anger or blow back goes. there's the oversight piece whether anyone has a sense of what our country is doing in the military operations chls i want to read from that "washington post" story because it talks about how messy or how difficult this transition hases been and says the talks between the cia and the pentagon are focused on finding a way to merge key aspects of the cia's drone
operations with those of the military so that both sides are de deeply and simultaneously involved in nearly every strike. and yet what a lot the of people on the inside are saying is that the cia is still the big player. some officials saying brennan has gone native or has changed his mind now that he has the job where he runs this. why specifically is that bad from an american perspective? >> well, first off, i don't think brennan has shifted and we have not seen from the obama administration a decision to reverse the earlier move that would put these operations under the control of the military. what i think we're experiencing is it's just hard to change the bureaucracy. this has been going on in this manner for more than ten years. there's a huge infrastructure that's built up around these programs and the cia is reluctant to just give that up and, frankly, the military is also reluctant to just do it the way the cia has been doing it so it's been a challenge to get these -- to make this shift happen. it's still going to happen. >> to ken's point, i'm not sure i buy that.
bureaucracy is a big word and certainly hard to change big operations. there are individuals here who have strong world views, many of whom in government and security say there's too much transparency as is and yet, michael, one of the big questions we saw in the syria debate was whether the u.s. public wanted to do another intervention. and the answer widely bipartisan answer was no. and yet here we are as we've been reporting in yemen and pakistan doing these operations. >> there's bureaucracy, ari. there's also the president of the united states. he's the boss. if he says we should do something this way, then the bur 0 okay's should move and and do it that way. there are issues in this administration these things just fall into a black hole and they don't happen. shortly before the snowden story broke in "the guardian" and "washington post," obama gave a speech about our security state, our security apparatus. if you go back and read that speech, it's a pretty good speech.
he says a lot of things in there that are good goals that would create more transparency, that would open up the system in the fisa courts to public review and so forth. but where did this go? where did this drone review go? >> ken, let me give you a chance to respond. i also want to put up for our viewers the sense there is some decline in the overall numbers and the administration has emphasized that if you look, for example, in pakistan 2004 to 2013. you see there those numbers you have dropped. in yemen, down slightly from 2012. and the administration says, "a," they're cutting back. 3w6, this is targeted and thus tally saves actually saves civilian lives. i am frustrated with the pace of this transition. i would like for it to move faster. i would like for this administration to get in line with the principles that the president articulated in his speech. that starts with this question of transparency.
i find it remarkable we hear a lot from the u.s. government that we are at war with al qaeda and its affiliates yet the u.s. government is not actually telling us which affiliates and where we are fighting. and i think that's really the first step here for the american people to have a better understanding of this conflict. the obama administration, i think rightly shifted from the resource and troop intensive strategy of the bush administration to one that was less focused on boots on the ground and more focused on our intelligence capabilities. >> i want to bring in bob herbert. ken's point is this the right strategy and that it's coupled with the question whether the public has any input. >> the public has very little input on the strategy but i think it's a mistake to just assume that the president, that the administration, the cia, that they want transparency on this sort of thing. that's exactly what they don't want. they want to keep as much of these operations as possible, secret, i would imagine, the president wants to keeps as much control over it as possible.
so when the talk comes about transparency or when the talk comes about reform, i take it as most of that is for public consumption and not really necessarily substantive. >> look, first, i love those charts you throw up, ari. they show how dramatically the number of drone strikes escalated under this administration. and then they cut them down a little bit and say, look, we've cut drone strikes. yes. you're the ones who exploded them in the first place. there are a lot of us who voted for the president who do not like the idea of running our foreign policy let alone our military policy by joystick. and the more we can at least move that out of the cia and under the department of defense -- >> when you say joystick, why is that, in your mind, a bad thing? >> look, there's the appearance of it, certainly the blowback, the number of civilians harld by these attacks, and i don't think
in general it contributes to the idea of an america that is being careful and cautious in the world as opposed to sort of sloppy and reckless. we're not going to go into a tough situation. we're just going to bomb it. >> ken, for the final word, do you agree with that? >> look, i think it's important that we don't allow the capabilities of the drones, an easier capability of the drone, to lead our strategy around. we made the correct decision to shift away from the resource and troop heavy of the bush administrati administration. now we shouldn't allow new capabilities to set the strategy and find us in places where the american people really don't know where we are in half a dozen countries fighting "x" number of terrorists groups here. >> it's the way that even the word drone has become code for a certain policy, a targeted killing, and some people think that is good because of the kla collateral damage that it may decrease. other people point out, well, forget collateral damage.
to sally's point, it makes it even ease wrer to do this off the books and we don't have to think about it and that is a fairly concerning place for american foreign policy. ken, thanks for being here. >> thanks very much and happy holidays. >> happy holidays. coming up the florida republican party has a message for trey radel. it's time to resign. the latest blow for the republican congressman next. ♪ ♪ by the end of december, we'll be delivering ♪ ♪ through 12 blizzards blowing ♪ 8 front yards blinding ♪ 6 snowballs flying ♪ 5 packages addressed by toddlers ♪ ♪ that's a q ♪ 4 lightning bolts ♪ 3 creepy gnomes ♪ 2 angry geese ♪ and a giant blow-up snowman ♪ that kind of freaks me out [ beep ] [ female announcer ] no one delivers the holidays like the u.s. postal service. priority mail flat rate is more reliable than ever. and with improved tracking up to 11 scans, you can even watch us get it there. ♪
you get your coffee here. you get your hair cut here. you find that certain thing you were looking for here, but actually you get so much more. when you shop at these small local businesses, you support all the things that make your community great. the money you spend here, stays here. in this place you call your neighborhood. this saturday is small business saturday. get out and shop small. it looks like florida republicans are ready to go cold turkey when it comes to congressman trey radel. he pled guilty to buying cocaine in washington, d.c. he then returned to his home state of florida to enter rehab for what he's calling a, quote, struggle with the disease of alcoholism. his colleagues in florida have largely been supportive of his decision to seek help, about but they are not mincing words about his political future.
just yesterday republican leaders in his district released a letter that says radel's actions violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent. his actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term. we feel it's in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately. a few other republicans are also questioning radel's sin secerit about rehab. >> two people said radel was reaching out to fellow republicans to shore up support and talk politics while he was in rehab instead of focusing on getting well. that left a bad taste, a source said. but, look, radel should not be surprised by the reaction from at least some of his colleagues. just two months ago he voted for mandatory drug tests for food stamp recipients, a bill asserting those caught using drugs should not receive government benefits. radel has not offered to give up his benefits or government salary. now after the break a living reality for millions of
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as americans get ready to celebrate the thanksgiving season, more people than ever may be spending the holidays without a proper thanksgiving meal. as msnbc.com reports, food pantries around the country are reporting a precipitous rise in the number of new visitors. in ft. worth hundreds of people began arriving before sunrise to get one of the 700 available holiday meals. supply couldn't keep up with demand though organizers had 25% more food on hand. part of the reason for 0 the uptick is a recent decrease in
federal funding to the supplemental assistance program which has resulted in the loss of 16 meals a month for an average family of three. leading the fight to tap holiday hunger is feeding america, the largest anti-hunger charity, which uses its network of 200 food banks across the country to supply food to 37 million americans. and joining us now is the chief communications officer for feeding america, laura daley. thanks for being here. 37 million is a huge number of people that your group is helping but is also, i think for anyone who hears the number really a sad statement about where we are as a country, where our economy is and where our policies are. >> it's absolutely staggering just how pervasive the issue of hunger is in america. more than one in six people are hungry today. with that number being even higher for kids, more than one in five kids in the united states is at risk of going hungry. >> and when you say s.n.a.p. and these perhaps, is there also an issue here whether people see this as giveaways, as this is
something we can cut to save the deficit and that kind of washington talk versus the actual reality on the ground huch need there is? >> i think oftentimes we get caught up in numbers and policies and programs and don't actually realize there are people behind these numbers that we're all talking about. for an average family of four, $36 per month cut earlier this month is a tremendous impact on the ability of families to put food on the table, and we know this is on the heels of a recession where we've seen about 50% increase in the number of people turning to food banks for help over the last four years. so, frankly, the issue has never been so big in the united states, and the s.n.a.p. cuts are only putting more burden on feeding america this holiday season. >> bob, you wouldn't think there would be a lot of politics of the hunger issue. people think of it sometimes as a question of charity, as a question of humanitarian impulses. and yet we have seen repeatedly in the budget and the farm bill a move by house republicans to
really go at this, to own this issue saying we want to decimate or take significant cuts to these programs. >> but i have seen over many years almost a war on the poor from certain segments of -- start to go say the political right but it's not just the political right. i mean, there is a segment of the population and a large segment of the elected officials who are just hostile to the poor who do not want to give the poor benefits and who blame people who are not doing well economically for the economic problems the country is having, budget deficits and that sort of thing. >> one of the things particularly staggering about those sta ttistics is we're nown an economic movement talking about a long-term moving out of this crisis we saw for a few years. a statistic that came out this morning, an economist broke down the income, gains and income over the last three years. and people in the top 1% of
income earners saw their income boosted by 30%. the rest of us by 0.4%. so, you know, we're no longer talking about these long food lines at this particular moment in our economic history but something that may be with us for a long time. >> and yet at the same time, ari, your campaign focuses on the campaign it takes a relatively small amount to help. i was lack iing here at the program where you say the give a meal campaign, $1 donation tally can cover nine meals? >> feeding america is a very efficient organization and a dollar helps us provide nine meals. this holiday season we've teamed up with bank of america to make your dollar go even further and through january 10, by donating online at feedingamerica.org bank of america will match $2 for every $1 a donor donates, so you can make your impact even further this holiday season. >> and that's, i think, just wonderful. you hear about that, you think about helping people, it's wonderful. but it's not only wonderful, sally, because that level of goodwill exists out there,
right? but it hasn't translated to our budget in washington. i'm seeing a political disconnect even though we're talking about an amazing program. >> people should give as much as they can give, should get involved. if you haven't brought your famili family to work at a soup kitchen, at an organization that helps feed needy families, you should do that. before we went on, 40% of the families that feed america supports have jobs, have jobs. this is a structural problem. and you see folks in politics, well, they don't want to provide food stamps. they don't want to raise the minimum wage. what are you going to do then? you're going to have structural poverty. >> we were talking about earlier in the show about walmart and a walmart employee. >> i think we forget that s.n . s.n.a.p. is the first line of defense and that these cuts that are being proposed in the house bill are absolutely pervasive and it's just not something that
the charitable sector can begin to make up. we need to think very seriously about further cutting the program if we're serious about ending hunger in america. >> i appreciate that point and it's very important because something you do here from time to time, you hear some people say, well, we can cut town all these government programs and someone will pick up the slack or charities will pick up the slack. you're covering 37 million people at max and that's amazing. it does not mean, i don't think, people can back off every other federal program. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> all right. and thank you. that is it for now. karen finney in for alex tomorrow. andrea mitchell reports is next.
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mandate that employers' plans cover contraception. does a company have the right to religious freedom? karzai ups the ante, the post combat security agreement in jeopardy. we'll have a live report from richard engel in afghanistan where the fate of thousands of u.s. troops hangs in the balance as the white house issues its own threat. >> if the agreement isn't is signed promptly, what i said to the president is we would have no choice, we would be compelled by necessity not by our preference to have to begin to plan for the prospect that we will not be able to keep our troops here because they will not be invited because it will not have been signed. president obama strikes back at critics of the iran deal. >> we cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict. tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically
but it's not the right thing for our security. >> but will congress jeopardize the deal by demanding new sanctions? >> after all, the ayatollah wants that bomb, and as he continues to organize these rallies in downtown in the capital where people are yelling death to america. >> we shouldn't get a deal just to say we have a deal. we have to get a deal that decreases the likelihood of military intervention and stops the development of a nuclear weapon. i don't think that this deal meets that standard. it doesn't meet those tests. and what we're learning about john kerry's secret mission when he was still a senator to launch a back channel to the ayatollah.